16 March 2021

The proposed Civic Stadium is struggling to remain a priority

| Tim Gavel
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The temporary closure of the AIS Arena means that Canberra is without a mid-sized indoor arena. Photo: Tim Gavel.

AIS Arena is temporarily closed. Photo: Tim Gavel.

With the AIS Arena out of action for the foreseeable future, the need for a medium-sized indoor stadium to cater for WNBL, netball and volleyball has emerged as an urgent priority.

If there is no indoor stadium catering to 3000 to 4000 sports fans, the Canberra community will be the loser.

The AIS Arena is far more than a ‘sporting venue’. Practically every secondary school student coming through the Canberra education system has had a graduation or other school-related event at the Arena. It has proven to be a multi-purpose facility.

The UC Capitals’ ability to host WNBL finals will be severely hampered without a medium-sized indoor stadium, as will Canberra’s capacity to host Netball Super League games.

There is nothing to take its place at the moment, which is why a new medium-sized stadium should be a priority for the ACT Government.

If it has to spend money on refurbishing the AIS Arena, so be it, but the ownership issue needs to be resolved.

If this doesn’t happen then other options need to be explored.

There have been several proposals over the years, including a stadium adjacent to the ACT Netball Centre at Lyneham and a medium-sized stadium at the University of Canberra.

With the need for an indoor arena emerging as a priority, it has possibly overtaken the proposed Civic Stadium in terms of need.

This week another study into a 25,000-seat stadium for league, union and football games was released and surprise, surprise, it found the site of the Civic Olympic Pool was the preferred option over EPIC.

READ MORE Civic or EPIC stadium kicks off at half a billion dollars, says report

I would have thought that was already locked in.

I find the whole exercise quite perplexing. Under the original timetable, the stadium was to have been completed by 2020.

Understandably, there have been delays because of the financial strain of Mr Fluffy, the light rail, bushfires and now COVID-19. If the Government sees the need for a 3000 to 4000-seat stadium as a priority, it will push the Civic Stadium even further back. This will make things interesting for the Raiders and the Brumbies with the ageing disposition of Canberra Stadium.

What is needed is a solid plan for sporting facilities in the ACT.

The way things are going, I am struggling to envisage the Raiders or the Brumbies playing in a new indoor stadium in my lifetime.

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If I was the State Leader of a balance of power party and I was in a marginal electorate bordering right up against the ACT I would probably be looking at my options re: siting an indoor arena in Queanbeyan. Bit of state funding, bit of federal funding.

Except that the main clubs utilising the infrastructure are Canberra based and receive Canberra government funding because of it.

If they suddenly wanted to move to playing games in QBN, you’d firstly have to convince the fans that it was a good idea and get them willing to travel which is extraordinarily unlikely.

The council would then have to find the additional ongoing funding required for such an enterprise which is also about as likely as the Liberal party winning the next WA state election.

I agree with you on your point about the political reasons for it not happening, but “willing to travel”? Queanbeyan closer to civic than Gungahlin and Tuggeranong.

Capital Retro8:16 am 26 Jul 21

Remember when the Raiders’ HQ was at Siefert Oval?

We used to travel to Queanbeyan then.

Did we?

Seiffert oval averaged 9000 odd and the biggest crowd was 18000 in 1989.

And Dan, who’s suggesting a stadium in Tuggeranong or Gungahlin? Queanbeyan would be further for most of the ACT population than the existing stadium, so isn’t really a solution. If you add in the poor public transport options, it wouldn’t even be considered.

Capital Retro12:00 pm 26 Jul 21

I was just stating a historical fact, chewy 14 so stop looking for the fifth leg on the cat.

By the way, the crowd numbers were good then.

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